Funerals, memorial services, and/or life celebration events are excellent opportunities for paying tribute to someone special.
Let’s consider ways to incorporate their hobbies, pastimes, and passions.
These thirteen tribute ideas, expanding on Housing for Senior’s unofficial list of the top 10 hobbies for people over 65, will provide you with specific examples of hobby-based tributes for funerals and memorial services.
Even if your loved one’s favorite niche or hobby isn’t on this list, you’ll be sure to find plenty of inspiration to personalize the service in a very special way.
Special Tributes for the Funeral
Times are changing, and the notion of a “traditional” service is becoming a thing of the past. Families often seek ways to make a funeral service more personal and true to the individual in both content and tone.
If some of these ideas seem gaudy, silly, or irreverent, please feel free to include those thoughts in the comments so that families searching for memorial service ideas can carefully weigh the message and tone of each idea to see if it will work for their situation.
And remember that funerals – whether they be “traditional” or “alternative” or anything in between – are just as unique as the individuals they are honoring.
Most of these special tributes can be showcased at the memorial by including ideas like these, which we won’t include in the lists under each individual hobby below:
- A memorial table filled with photos, collectibles, clippings, and other memorabilia
- A photo of your loved one engaging in the hobby on an easel near the urn or casket
- Memory coins printed with image or quote pertaining to favorite hobby
- Encouraging friends and family to share or write down stories relating to the hobby
- Display the cremation urn in a creative way
- Creating centerpieces for the reception themed around the pastime
So, without further ado, here are 13 creative tributes for the funeral based on their favorite hobbies.
13 Niche Tributes for Someone Special
Boating is a fun and active hobby, favored by many for the opportunity to get out onto the water and experience the wind in your hair the splash of the waves on your face, and the strenthening activities of managing a boat on the open water.
If you want to incorporate your loved one’s boating hobby into the memorial service, here are a few ideas:
- Display a large piece of cloth sail for participants to sign or write a message
- Have a memorial service at the beach, dock, or on a boat
- Play a meditative ocean audio track before, at a reflective time during, or after the service
- If the decedent is cremated, get a boating cremation urn for display during the service
- Display a model boat made by or similar to the one used by your loved one
Golf is an extraordinarily popular sport in the USA, and if your loved one was a golfer there are plenty of ways to include a golfing theme as a part of the memorial service. Here are some to get you started:
- Have the memorial event at the country club
- Give out personalized golf balls as memorial keepsakes
- Set out their golf club bag on display
- Set up a memorial table with memorabilia such as scorecards, photos, collectibles, etc.
- If the decedent is cremated, get a golfing cremation urn for display during the service
- If there will be an open casket, have a golf club in their hands (be very sensitive about this one though)
- Commission a portrait of your golfer
Here in the Northwest, fishing is just about everyone’s pastime. If your loved one loved to fish, you can showcase that in the memorial service in many ways, including:
- Have a memorial or scattering service at a favored fishing spot
- Serve a favorite type of fish at the reception
- Donate fishing starter kits to local kids in need, and display the kits at the service
- If the decedent is cremated, get a fishing cremation urn for display during the service
- Display fishing poles and photo of all the “great catches”
Many people get into antiquing as an expression of their love of decorating, or a penchance for the style of a particular era, or as a fun way to make a little side money as they discover, fix up, and resell antique furniture and collectibles. If your loved one was into antiques, here are some ways to include an antiquing hobby in the service:
- Use small antique knickknacks as centerpieces for reception tables
- Create an old fashioned “room” filled with favorite pieces in the entry way
- Use an antique scrapbook as the guestbook
- Print programs on actual or imitation antique paper
- If the deceased is going to be cremated, use a premium wood urn which suits their style
- Add antique hinges, handles, or other accents to the coffin or urn
There are many ways people engage in photography as a hobby these days. The styles are endless – smartphone and Instagram, wildlife and nature, wedding and portrait, sports and travel, family gatherings and photoblogs, recipes and crafts, and many more.
Whatever their equipment, style, or preference, there are many ways to pay tribute to their love of photography:
- Display photographs taken by the deceased throughout the room or entry
- Have a slideshow running before and after the service
- Encourage attendees to take and tag memorial photos using Instagram (or other platforms)
- Have guests take an instant-print selfie instead of signing a guestbook
- Encourage guests to write down “My Special Memory of You“
- Here are seven more memorial service ideas involving photography
- Create a special funeral poster sign
6. Model Building
Many people enjoy the calm, peaceful activity of building scale models. Popular types include trains, classic cars, WWII airplanes, boats, ships-in-a-bottle, mini land and cityscapes, LEGO sets, and so much more.
If your loved one found joy in model building, here are some suggestions on how this can be “modeled” at the memorial:
- Give out mini model train sets for guests to build
- Display select models built by your loved one
- Give each attendee a part of a model set (for instance, a tiny model car or tree) and have them place it in a model scene
- If the deceased built model trains, use a train cremation urn in place of a plain urn
- Create a train-track timeline of major life events and incorporate models begun or completed as anchor points
There is nothing quite like a morning spent in the warm spring sun, working hard to nurture living plants and then enjoying the fruits of your labors as flower bloom or vegetables ripen.
If your loved one kept a garden as a favorite hobby, here are some memorial service ideas for including this pastime in unique ways:
- Give out seed packets to guests as a memorial keepsake
- Hand out plantable memorial cards in memory of your loved one
- Use home-grown flowers instead of purchasing funeral flowers
- Display a cremation urn with a floral theme
- Use the cremated remains to plant a memorial tree or other plant of your choice
Volunteering is a very rewarding hobby, and takes many forms depending on the individual interests and personality of the individual.
Whether it was a well-known organization such as the Red Cross, involvement at the local church, school, or food bank, or devotion to a little-known cause, the way a person chooses to spend their time speaks volumes about their life.
Here are some ideas for incorporating charitable causes into the service:
- Ask a member of the organization with which they were involved to speak or participate in some way
- Give out Angel or Heart pocket charms to symbolize involvement in a special cause
- Ask attendees to donate funds to a cause in lieu of bringing flowers
- Set out a donation jar or QR code by the guest book
- Create a collage of all their various volunteer activities
Tracing your ancestry is a fascinating hobby for many people. What better time to fill in a few missing links than when all the family is gathered at the funeral?
Honor the memory of your loved one by encouraging the gathered family to add, review, or remember the family history in these ways:
- Hand out genealogy cards for family members to contribute what they know of family history
- Use a roll of paper to trace out the family genealogy on a wall… this will be a great conversation starter
- If you’re planning on continuing the genealogical research, ask family members to bring photos, birth certificates, and other documents
- Use a Polaroid camera to have guests take a photo of themselves, and write their relation on the back
After the downturn in the economy combined with the rise of handmade retail sites such as Etsy, knitting is once again a popular hobby.
If your loved one was constantly clicking those needles together and churning out hats, scarves, mittens, and more, here are some memorial tribute ideas that involve knitting:
- Give out knit items as keepsakes
- Use knitting needles and yarn as reception table centerpieces
- Have some knitting friends make knitted flowers such as remembrance poppies
- Create a knit slip cover for the plastic temporary urn (similar to this)
- Use doilies made by your loved one, perhaps beneath the urn or centerpieces
- Do a balloon release, and have each guest tie a small piece of yarn to the balloon
They loved the feel of an old book, and the satisfaction of turning the last page on a great read. They have a Kindle or e-reader, but much prefer the tactile interaction of the real thing.
For the special someone who was an avid reader, honor that love of books by paying tribute in these ways:
- Give out personalized memorial bookmarks
- Display favorite books at the front and in other various places
- Set up shelves full of books and encourage attendants to take and read a book in your loved one’s memory
- If the decedent will be cremated, use a book-shaped urn at the memorial service
- Have each attendee sign the guest book by listing their favorite book
- Decorate using prints of quotes from their favorite books
Cooking and baking are time-honored hobbies involving the one thing everybody loves: food. Baking, especially, brings back warm memories for many of us, with the smell of bread or cookies permeating the house on a cold and rainy day.
If your loved one was a whiz in the kitchen, here are a some creative ways to incorporate cooking or baking into the memorial service:
- If they were known for a particular food or recipe, serve that at the reception
- Give a mini bag of home-baked cookies or other treat to each guest on their way out
- Display their famous handwritten recipe engraved on a cutting board
- Pass out cards with special recipes
- Stream a baking show in the background during the reception
Many people love to play, watch, and follow sports. Here are some unique ideas to help you honor their passion for sports like football, baseball, tennis, and more.
- Have favorite team colors tie the decorations together
- Ask attendees to wear team colors to the memorial to honor their memory
- Many sports fans also collect memorabilia; display these at the entrance or front
- Get a sports-themed funeral flower arrangement made
- Use a casket featuring the colors of their favorite sports team
- Use a picture frame urn to showcase a favorite sports photo
More Tribute Ideas for the Memorial Service
What are some memorial service ideas you’ve seen, done, or thought of? Please share them in the comments below for inspiration to fellow funeral planners!
We have lots more ideas here:
Read Next: Funeral Planning Checklist (Free Printable)
Daniel has been working in the funeral industry since 2010, speaking directly to grieving families as they made funeral arrangements.
He began researching and publishing funeral articles on this website as part of his role as product and marketing manager at Urns Northwest.
Having written hundreds of articles and growing the site to multiple millions of views per year, Daniel continues to write while providing editorial oversight for US Urns Online’s content team.